Family speak of heartache as death driver is jailed

Mourners at Tony Barrett's funeral at St Hilda's Church  w133906f
Mourners at Tony Barrett's funeral at St Hilda's Church w133906f

The family of a well-known Whitby teacher killed in a collision on the A171 have spoken out after the man responsible for his death was handed a four-year prison sentence.

Leslie Anthony Barrett, 65, who was known affectionately by pupils at Airy Hill School as ‘Mr B’, died when the car he was driving collided with Faisal Ali’s Mercedes on the Whitby to Guisborough road near Tranmire on Sunday September 8, 2013.

Ali was overtaking another vehicle on double white lines at the time.

And as Leeds Crown Court jailed the 28-year-old Middlesbrough man for death by dangerous driving, Mr Barrett’s daughter, Claire Sinclair, spoke of the heartache felt by her family as a result of their “catastrophic” loss.

“My heart is heavier than I could ever imagine,” she said.

“The pain of what happened and how it happened will never go away. We will simply have to learn to live with it and hope Dad’s death was not in vain.

“The emotional and physical impact that my dad’s death has had on me has forced me to live a life I don’t recognise and confront feelings I never thought imaginable.

“My whole world as I knew it instantly ended.”

In addition to his prison sentence, Ali was also banned from driving for four years and ordered to take an extended driving test. In her victim impact statement, Ms Sinclair questioned Ali’s morality after his failure to display any remorse for his actions.

Addressing Ali, she said: “You have shown so little regard for us and our lives even though it has been confirmed, as originally thought, that it was indeed you who was responsible.

“You were offered the chance to express any remorse you may have had for my dad’s life and my family’s suffering. You effectively rejected this opportunity by continuing to refer to yourself and your self-pity.

“The only tears the court witnessed were through self-pity too when you recalled you couldn’t take your honeymoon. Poor you.

“My Dad never got to celebrate his belated Ruby Wedding trip of a lifetime in the Far East with my mum due to that same collision. Unfortunately for my Dad and my Mum they never will.

“It breaks my heart you took all this away from my family and so recklessly and so needlessly.”

Ms Sinclair revealed that her mother has been so badly affected by her husband’s death that she moved away from the area.

“Mum could no longer face living in the place where so many happy memories of over 30 years were made without her soul mate by her side,” she added. “She never has, and likely never will, take that road where he last was again. As it is one of only a handful of access routes from her home in Whitby to surrounding towns her life and freedom was further restricted.

“She made the impossibly hard decision to leave North Yorkshire and move closer to my brother and I in the South of England.

“I mourn the loss of my Mum as I knew her. I have held her in my arms as she has wept for her only love, a husband and best friend of 43 years, feeling an indescribable pain and helplessness because she hurts so much and there’s nothing I can do.

“My whole body aches for her and will do for the rest of my life.”

Paying tribute to a man who she said could “light up a room”, Ms Sinclair went on to describe her anguish at the fact that her children would never have the chance to know their grandfather.

“It breaks my heart my children will not know him,” she continued. My dad was and would have been undoubtedly a truly superb grandad.

“For the rest of our lives we will have family gatherings, Christmas’ and weddings, once joyous and festive occasions, now ruined because there is someone missingSome people shine, Tony sparkled. His memory lives on.”

Following the verdict, Mr Barrett’s family thanked the Whitby community for its support following the loss of “an incredibly kind, funny and loving man”.

In a statement released via the police, they went on to say: “Thank you to the community of Whitby and all of ‘Mr B’s’ friends of which there were many, for their kind words friendship, support and tributes – a constant strength for all the family.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to North Yorkshire Police for their support and professionalism over the last year and a half. Our police family liaison officer, PC Mark Hutchings has been exceptional and has helped us every step of the way.”

Investigating officer, Traffic Constable Martin Mulcaster of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Investigation Team, said: “Mr Ali’s dangerous manoeuvre has cost the life of another man and devastated a family in the space of a few seconds.

“Although Mr Ali now has to face up to actions and justice has been delivered for Mr Barrett and his family, no sentence can compensate for the loss of his life and the distress caused to his family.”